Although Frank Black's tenure at the helm of the Pixies overshadows his solo career, his individual efforts deserve this recap, an extensive compilation of 23 tracks culled from a decade's worth of recordings. Archivists, take note: The track list stops just short of the more pensive material contained in Honeycomb, from 2004, and Fast Man Raider Man, released last year. It focuses instead on the brash, aggressive edge retained from the Pixies' neo-punk posturing.
Nevertheless, 93-03 illuminates other artists' influence on Black's motif. There are hints of Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground in the sullen croon and earnest delivery of "Czar," "Calistan," and "I Gotta Move," and of the Stones through the ragged assault of "Western Star," "Hermaphroditos," and "Velvety." Then there's Crazy Horse, in the overall insurgence. And although Black's brooding, bellicose countenance is often intimidating ("I am the hater of all things humankind," he bellows in "Suffering"), there's more than a trace of melody within the mayhem. Take the pleading desire of "I Don't Want to Hurt You (Every Single Time)," the frayed trappings of "Headache" and "All My Ghosts," or the riveting sweep of "Manitoba." However, given the fact that he reverts to his Pixies nom de plume, Black Francis, for his upcoming album, Bluefinger, any hint of civility might be short-lived.
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